The Pittsburgh Penguins were much improved on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not only did they have newly acquired LW Jason Zucker in the lineup and beside Sidney Crosby, but they also played a more structured game without being overwhelmed by the opponent.
The Penguins didn’t need pushback on Tuesday night as it was they who got stronger throughout the game. In the end, the Penguins lost 2-1 in OT, but the 3v3 extra period doesn’t often define the game, sometimes the additional period simply awards the extra point.
“They’re a good team, and they got their chances,” Penguins goalie Matt Murray said. “We’re a good team, and we got our chances. That game could have gone either way.”
The Penguins first period was much of the same, which haunted them last Thursday in Tampa Bay. They yielded 17 shots in the first period, as Tampa Bay breezed by their forecheck and attempt to clog the middle of the ice. The Penguins forechecker got very little pressure on the puck. Indeed, the Penguins didn’t create as much pressure as did Tampa Bay.
One note before the analysis, the Penguins took a pair of undisciplined penalties in the second period. Evgeni Malkin traded jabs and gloves with Tampa Bay third pairing D-man Luke Schenn. Late in the period, Kris Letang got an unsportsmanlike penalty, presumably for barking at the refs.
One of the Penguins veterans was a bit testy after his scrum. Despite the point and the big trade to get Zucker, the locker room was a bit dour. Whether that is good or bad probably depends on your frame of reference.
PHN asked Sidney Crosby if it was a good or bad point on Tuesday night. After some pondering and wandering, he replied, “I don’t know how to answer that,” before he praised his team’s effort.
“One point is better than no points,” he also said.
Head coach Mike Sullivan flipped Dominik Simon to the top line and dropped Patric Hornqvist midway through the game. The switch worked as the Crosby line with Zucker emerged from the shadows and put Tampa Bay on the defensive.
The line had six shots on goal in just over four minutes together. With Hornqvist, the Penguins top line had only two shots in over six minutes.
Pittsburgh Penguins Tactical Analysis:
In the first period, Tampa Bay moved their skates well inside the red line and collapsed on the Penguins breakout. Tampa used two and three forecheckers inside the blue line as the Penguins retreated to help their defensemen.